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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

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August 2008


Let's Talk Trash


I always look for stories that link Hawaii and Washington. If I’m lucky it may have comedy potential. Well, I recently came across this headline: Hawaii’s Next Big Export – Municipal Trash. The basic idea is that Hawaii will be sending trash to Washington State. So you have Hawaii, Washington, and garbage. Cha-ching! Bull’s-eye! Up from the ground come a bubblin’ crude!

According to the AP story, the island of Oahu produces 1.8 million tons of garbage per year, most of that old pogs that turned out to be more wasted storage space than collector’s item. To put that number in perspective, that’s 1.8 tons of garbage times one million. I think. Individually Hawaiians toss an average of 10 pounds of trash per day. The national average is 4.5 pounds. Wow, the people of Oahu have black belts in trash. They are the warriors of waste; the refuse to lose of refuse; the doctors of disposal. In their defense, SPAM and its can have almost no half-life.

On Oahu, there seems to be a problem with space. 1.8 million tons of trash per year on an island with one landfill. Okay, let’s say you’re in a prison cell and they keep tossing in bricks. Well, eventually you’ll have to slow the brick delivery down or stop it completely, right? Well somehow that concept snuck up on everyone.

So one solution is to offer the garbage to another state. I believe the Craig’s List ad read like this: Slightly used pieces of paradise. Available in two-ton bricks. Free shipping.

Remember when Hawaii used to export pineapple and sugar? Now we export prisoners and trash. Of course, this isn’t the first time Hawaii has exported garbage. The “Dog the Bounty Hunter” television show has been sent to the mainland for a few years now. Folks, I don’t know what the Guinness record for number of Dog the Bounty Hunter jokes by a columnist is, but I’m going for it.

Oahu is looking to send out 100,000 tons of garbage each year. I’m hoping this mellows out the airport fruit police when I’m flying back to Seattle. Unless they’re inspecting all 100,000 tons of trash, they better back off the pocket searches when their beagle thinks he smells a mango in my pants.

So who steps in? Klickitat County, Washington, that’s who. Klickitat County is located in the southern part of Washington along the Columbia Gorge. For those of you have spent time in Klickitat County, I’m sorry that your car broke down. I hope Hank was able to find the part within a week. The county is home to the largest landfill in the state, the Roosevelt Regional Landfill. It is located in the community of Roosevelt, population 79, 46 of whom are related to Hank.

According to the website (yes, there is a website. Apparently for the tourists), the Roosevelt landfill is “State of the art.” I think this means that the landfill can be started up with a keyless remote and converts the garbage into caviar. This will be the new home for some of Oahu’s trash. So in January I could make a 3.5-hour drive and go find the fruitcake I gave my parents for Christmas. I know what you’re thinking: “Hawaiians don’t eat fruitcake.” Exactly. That’s what makes it funny when they get it.

Klickitat County should have a statue welcoming the barges. It could be a fly holding a torch with the inscription “Give us your junk, your discarded, your mulch. Your crack seed bags are our economic prosperity.”

I just realized that 100,000 tons are only 6% of 1.8 million. Okay, I didn’t just realize it. It took a page full of pencil scribbles and a 10 key, but the point is that it’s a very small percentage of the big problem. That’s like saying “There’s too much stuff in the fridge. I think I’ll toss this half a garlic clove.”

I’ve been in Washington long enough that recycling is as common in my life as breakfast, a shower, or a Mariner loss. I’ve been to sports events where unruly fans will throw beer at opposing players but hold on to the plastic cups to look for a green bin. Oddly enough, recycling has not really been embraced in Hawaii. For the last year Oahu has started a recycling plan but some of my relatives consider that extra bin more of a bonus garbage receptacle and I’m pretty sure chicken bones can’t be made into paper.

If you go to opala.org (“Opala” is the Hawaiian word for garbage) you will find (and I’m not kidding here) “recycle songs.” They include the following: “Whatcha Gonna Do” by Henry Kapono, “Put Opala In Its Place” by the Lava Jam Band, and “Reduce Reuse Recycle” by Jack Johnson. Really? We need musicians to come up with catchy tunes to make people realize that there’s no room for more bricks in your prison cell? I guess you can’t argue the success of Don Ho’s 1974 hit “Eh, Da Stove Is Hot. No Touch ‘Em.” Or the Krush’s 1982 chart topper “Next Time You Ride the Bus, Try Deodorant.” Or the very popular 1987 Nohelani Cypriano recording “I Know You’re Mad, But Probably Best You Not Kill That Guy.”

Note: Many of my jokes are often recycled AND are considered garbage in Klickitat County.

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